This essay of mine just came out in the latest issue of Journal of Contemporary Shamanism! Here’s a PDF copy.
This essay of mine just came out in the latest issue of Journal of Contemporary Shamanism! Here’s a PDF copy.
By Gabriel Hartley
December 16-17, 2013
This morning as Anna and I were doing the Kyy Breath pranayama sequence that the Kyy serpent spirits taught me last year in Finland, I got to the second stage of the instructions where I normally indicate that it’s time for the “Spiral Breath.” As occasionally happens, this morning I felt inspired to add more specific details and ended up saying, “Spiral Breath, focusing on the Celtic and Hopi Spirals.” As soon as I said this, a voice that by now I immediately recognize as that of the Elf representative working with us corrected me, saying, “It’s not simply the Celtic or Hopi Spiral. The Spiral symbol is universal and has been granted to cultures of all times and places!”
As soon as Callador, the Elf representative, said this, I immediately agreed. In fact, this is in line with the message I have been receiving since my initial communication with the Kachinas during our travels through Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and Taos in August. At that time I was struck by the coincidence of the presence of the Spiral symbol etched in stone in Ireland and the U.S. Southwest. We had been engaging with the Spiral throughout Ireland in June and now were doing so again in the region that is now called Colorado and New Mexico, and I was getting the clear sense that this was not at all accidental but a true coincidence in the root sense of incidents happening in direct relation to one another, things that were co-incident.
The larger point beyond what the Spiral symbolizes was the fact that various human groups at different times and places have been receiving the exact same symbolic images. And it was clear that Anna and I were being drawn to the image itself for very similar reasons. As the Kachinas made clear in August, the Spiral represents, among other things, the circulation of the sacred winds, including the breath. The ceremonial kivas are intended to take advantage of and even to stage the expression of these sacred winds. And this symbolic relationship between the concept-experience of the sacred winds and the Spiral image is a universal expression that goes beyond the limits of any specific cultural symbolic system.
The Kachinas before and Callador now stressed this point that certain symbolic terms and features should not be strictly associated with a specific culture. No individual person or culture can claim ownership of a particular image. This fact is important not just in terms of universal transcultural access but also in terms of an expansive notion of identity. This expansive notion of identity is related to the idea of universal symbols in that we need to stop imagining that one particular thing is what it is because it has some stable and unique core identity based on specific attributes. In fact, all things are far more mobile and plastic than we normally assume—as Buddhists have been contending for centuries. Each thing is at any moment the result of a specific constellation of frequencies and energies. So our notion of identity should be much more mobile and flexible in order to take this range of constellations into account.
I should comment at this point that although I began these notes over twenty-four hours ago (it is now 10:03 am on Tuesday, December 17), I have found it extremely difficult to get through the process of recording my meditation experience from yesterday morning regarding the flexible nature of identity. I see this in itself as a sign of inner and outer resistances to this message and therefore a sign that the message itself is far more important than I let myself think initially. Soon after starting the recording process yesterday, Anna and I found ourselves going through extremely intense emotional states individually and as a couple. We would go through a beautiful, romantic period of an hour or two of kissing, gathering firewood, listening to beautiful music, all leading us into a heightened state of ecstasy. This ecstasy would then almost immediately be followed by an equally intense period of arguing and shouting about personal boundaries and individual competencies and varying ways that we each approach and process things. And then we’d fall into each other’s arms again, madly expressing our deep love.
So it does not seem at all coincidental—in the usual sense of this term—that one of the topics Anna and I found ourselves passionately arguing about turned out to have to do with this notion of flexible identity and definition itself! Over the past few weeks I have been getting bits and pieces of suggestions that it will be important for us to do something relating to the upcoming Winter Solstice here on the Portal property. So what we found ourselves arguing about in the midafternoon was exactly what this “something” we might do might in reality be. We found ourselves getting deep down into the recognition that each of us perceives and responds to the very same energies and entities and experiences in quite different ways. This means that the same energetic experience of the Elves, for example, would lead to one kind of expression within me and to a very different kind of expression within Anna. Yet we were responding to identical impulses while addressing these impulses in our own ways. After forty years of intense academic intellectual activity, I, for example, find it quite natural to respond to things primarily through ideas and concepts; Anna, on the other hand, after a couple decades of intense graphic design activity, responds to things much more imagistically. And we both respond to these same things energetically but find ourselves resorting to differing methods of expressing our experiences of these energies.
This in itself is a perfect example of the need to be conscious of the flexible range of frequencies and energies that we call “identity.” What exactly is this experience we each have together? What are the better ways of approaching it, making sense of it, expressing our understandings of it? And what we concluded through this very important process of renegotiating our communicational styles was that each of us is right, and that together we are even more right! In fact, it appears that one crucial reason we have been called together as a couple on this spiritual path is to find the appropriate blend of our individual natures and to produce a more powerful and effective third position that serves as the constellation of each our energetic fields. Our working hypothesis at this point, then, is that we have much more to offer others through our combined efforts than either of us would have on our own. This freighted alchemy offers a mixture of potentials that takes on a flexible compound identity of its own.
Now I will return to my initial response to the message of the Elves concerning the need to loosen up my sense of identity. One reason their message is especially important to me at this point in my development is that in the past six months I have been finding myself in conversation with beings who call themselves Kachinas. And these beings lead me through various meditations on elements that they refer to as kivas, sipapus, Ant People, Emergence, Blue Star Kachinas, and other things the terms of which call us to think of the Pueblo cultures of the U.S. Southwest. After having spent over a decade intensely involved with the political struggles for indigenous rights in this hemisphere, I have been trained to be especially sensitive to anything that smacks of cultural appropriation, especially the appropriation of religious images and rituals. So in response to this sensitivity, I have very deliberately tried to avoid the typical New Age tendency to resort to a variety of tribal images and practices as a way of expressing my own spiritual growth and understanding. This means, then, that I immediately get nervous when I find myself called on to write about my experiences with beings called Kachinas and Ant People, for the last thing I want to do is trespass upon the sacred rights of any people, tribal or other.
But what the Kachinas insist on in response to my reticence is that they themselves have come to me; they themselves have identified themselves as Kachinas; they themselves have drawn my attention to the Ant People before I ever heard of such entities in any literature about, for example, Hopi belief systems. And they insist that they are not calling on me to invade Hopi or Zuni or other Puebloan territory and claim it as my own. What they are calling on me to do is to listen to their messages and respond to their energies with an open mind and an open heart.
And this again brings up the issue of identity. Whatever the provenance of the term Kachina, can it be said that one specific human grouping has exclusive access to such spirits? The Kachinas tell me time and again that they have been forever available to peoples across the planet and that they go by various other names (such as Kahuna). Whatever the power of the names we are given to refer to them by, the identity of the entities stretches far beyond any one culture’s imagination and participates in a planetary and extra-planetary exchange of frequencies and informational structures and processes. For whatever reason, they have identified themselves to me by the name of Kachina while asking me to recognize that their identity is not in any way exhausted by such a term.
So here we are on the verge of the Winter Solstice—which, by the way, is the beginning of Kachina season in the Northern Hemisphere, the day on which the Kachinas come back to the northern peoples to assist them through the hard and beautiful days of winter. And so here we are, Anna and I, nearing the darkest evening of the year and considering what this means for us, what this calls on us to do, and how this calls on us to expand our verbal, conceptual, imagistic, and energetic repertoires as we open up and make more flexible our senses of the nature of identity—our own and that of everything else in creation.
October 4, 2013
I will attempt to reconstruct what I have learned in the past few days from my meditations on the hill above our house. There is a lot of information that remains fuzzy at the present moment, but a general structure of significance seems to be falling into place.
During much of August and September Anna and I were led to focus most of our attention here on the First Portal, which was revealed to involve a heavenly or celestial vortex. (For the sake of coherence, I will repeat some of the information I have relayed in previous accounts.) I had many direct and indirect encounters with the Archangel Gabriel here, as well as with Michael and other unidentified angelic powers. The general message seems to have been that we should continually anchor ourselves in this Angelic Force, not only for the gifts we would receive from such beings but perhaps even moreso because this would impel us to acknowledge and claim our own Angelic Nature. One aspect of this message is that humans are multidimensional, complex beings made up of many elements, including the Angelic. We are Terrestrial Angels.
The Second Portal was shown to involve the energies of an Earthly Vortex—that is, a vortex arising from subterranean sources. This portal is overseen by Water Fairies and represents a point of contact or entry into the subterranean water systems throughout the planet. I have been led through various meditations and exercises for connecting to and with these water forces. Given the fact that Fairies in general have a hard time dealing with the intensity of Human Energies, the Elves mediate between us and the Fairies in order to moderate the energy flow from us humans to the Fairies, just as the Elves mediate between Humans and Angels in order to lesson the intensity of Angelic Energies that Humans come into contact with.
The Third Portal, which I have barely been led to explore as yet, represents what I can only at this point call Alternative Realities. This seems to refer to dimensional planes that I cannot even imagine at the moment, planes that go beyond our usual spatial coordinates of Heaven (Causal), Earth (Physical), and the Underworld (Etheric). At the moment I can only imagine dimensional realms existing as alternative universes, realms of experience that we can slip into and out of, but not without preparation if we wish to avoid serious trauma.
Now to the realizations of the past three days: We were drawn to meditate on the hilltop in the meadow which we have mown and where we sit to enjoy the beauty of our surrounding landscape and the change of seasons. I was told ahead of time that this spot was not chosen randomly by us but has special energetic significance in relation to the rest of the property. After getting attuned through some Kundalini Yoga chants and our own Kyy Breath Centering Meditation, I was told to tap into the energies of the First Portal. As I was sitting facing north, this meant that the First Portal was off behind us to the left, or to the southwest of the hilltop. As I did so, I immediately felt the presence of Gabriel and was led through some connecting exercises to connect with my own Angelic Energies. This led to familiar and still amazing experiences as the energies flowed through my various bodies.
Next I was led to connect to the Fairies and Elves at the Second Portal, who took me through now familiar exercises in which I engaged with the forces of the entities themselves and then to the Water Elementals I again flowed through the subterranean water systems of the planet.
Then I was asked to open myself up to the energies of the Third Portal, which I hadn’t yet been invited to do. While the energies of the Angelic Portal tend to be very electric, as though currents of energy flow through me and extend my being into a larger energetic circuit, and the energies of the Second Portal feel, not surprisingly, more liquid and bubbling, the energies of the Third Portal felt much more substantial in the sense of solid and dense. Yet the feeling of these energies was very comforting and warming. If you could say that the First Portal energies give rise to a flying sensation and those of the Second Portal give rise to a swimming sensation, the Third Portal energies felt more like a warm, comfortable night in bed under wonderful blankets and on luscious pillows. I cannot think of any time I have experienced this particular quality of energy before.
The Triple Spiral
As amazing and welcome as this new Third Portal experience was, I had not yet experienced the greatest rush of flows yet to come. This happened when I suddenly began to notice that I could feel the energies of all three portals flowing through me (and me through them) simultaneously. I asked my Guide whether this were true, and the answer was that this was the most important experience for me to go through and ultimately to consider—the relationship between the Three Portals with us at the Center Point of perspective and signification. I was invited to bathe in this new combined flow, and as I did the image of the Celtic Triple Spiral suddenly appeared before my consciousness. I could at that moment see each portal simultaneously rotating in a counter-clockwise circle. What I mean by “simultaneous” is that even though each portal lay quite a distance from me in physical space and each in its own planetary location, I could literally see each portal spiral as if I were hovering over each simultaneously, seeing three different geo-spatial coordinates at once as they lay stacked on top of one another.
At the same time, nevertheless, I was seeing the very spot where Anna and I were sitting—the hilltop above the Second Portal and below the First (to the left) and Third (to the right up on the highest ridge top). And I realized that this spot was the point of convergence of the energies of each of the three portals. Just as I was seeing myself hovering above each portal, watching each spin in equal rhythm with the others, I could also see the spot where I was sitting serving as the conduit for the flows of all three portals. I said to my Guide, “This is the significance of the Celtic Spiral!” (which we had seen throughout Ireland during our travels in June), and my Guide said, “Yes!” I then heard the following statement: “The Image, the Word, the Object, the Gesture—all are portals, points of convergence where multiple realities intersect. The key is to recognize the invitation to travel these overlapping vectors, to see these points of convergence glowing in their infinite possibilities.”
This statement proves especially significant for me as I have been spending the past few weeks intensely reading the Sufi philosophers, especially Ibn ‘Arabi and Suhrawardi, and commentary on them by Henry Corbin. A key element of their thinking and spiritual experience for me is the way in which they approach the Image or the Figure—every Image and Figure!—as an archetype for the relationship between the Human Angel (humans in their angelic aspect) and the Holy Spirit as represented by (figured by) the Angel Gabriel. To have this energetic and imagistic revelation by means of the Angel-Elf-Fairy influence of my portal experiences was mind blowing! This was exactly the kind of unification of my spirit visions and my intellectual exercises that I had been seeking. And it all came via the image of the Celtic Triple Spiral which I had been meditating on for months in conjunction with the Kachina spiral images of the U.S. Southwest.
In short, things feel as though they are quickly and massively coalescing for me on a multitude of levels. Wow!
August 21, 2013
By Gabriel Hartley
After a couple days of amazing visionary experiences on our Southwestern trip through Colorado and New Mexico, Anna and I left Santa Fe this morning for Taos via the High Road through Chimayó. I had been told that a trip to Chimayó would be important, but I had no idea what the nature of the experience might be. I was expecting to get a clearer sense of the energetic geography of the canyon (which I did) and perhaps a clearer sense of the Kachina message to us at this point in our development (which also happened). What I did not in any way expect was a vision concerning the Kachina nature of the Christ.
As we descended into the Chimayó canyon from the first stretch of the Taos High Road, we could each feel the growing energy that saturates this little canyon river valley and its surrounding hills. In a message from the Kachinas that I had received during the night, I learned that we should first go to the little stream at the Santuario, Potrero Ditch (not a very compelling name for such a beautiful stream). I was told that yesterday at Chaco Canyon we had experienced the elements of earth, sky, and air (winds), and that this morning we should open ourselves up to the element of water and the river gods. So we parked beside the stream and walked down into the river bed.
After just a few moments of our getting acquainted with the spirit of the stream, Anna said, “Look! A coyote!” And true enough, about a hundred yards from us there was a small, young coyote in the cow pasture on the other side of the stream. Being so young, it looked quite a bit like a kit fox. It looked up at us out of curiosity and then got back to its play in the field, occasionally pouncing on small animals or insects in the grass. We watched it for about five minutes before it finally disappeared from site as it wandered off towards the hills.
We then wandered slowly and meditatively towards the Santuario. As we got closer I began to sense an overwhelming grief coming over me. (Chaco Grief) I had felt this in the past, of course, but always took this to be in response to the deaths of Dylan and Jesse. But this time the grief felt very anonymous, unattached to me, as if it were part of the Astral Plane of the site. In fact, as I write these words I am more convinced of this. The whole complex contains a store of unprocessed grief going back to early indigenous times long before the arrival of the Spanish and the ensuing conquest. But the majority of the grief comes, of course, from the function of the site as a place for hope and healing. There is evidence of its healing effects, but there is just as much evidence of the many prayers that appear to have gone unanswered. This is especially true in the Santo Niño Chapel.
Anna and I entered the Holy Dirt Shrine and spent a few moments tuning in to the healing spirit of the place. I picked up some sand and rubbed it into my palms. While this felt comforting on some level and we could feel the energy, but I was a little disappointed that I had not received another powerful message from the powers of the Shrine. A few people starting crowding around us, so we walked back outside and entered the Chapel from the front door.
The mass goers were saying Hail Marys, the Lord’s Prayer, and singing songs in Spanish and English. Still moved by the site’s sorrow-effect, Anna and I sat in a kind of moving emotional swirl while the chanters spoke and sang. The chapel is a stunning example of 18th-Century northern New Mexico Spanish architecture and artwork. The wooden retablos on the walls are done in that primitive angular, moving style that exaggerates the emotional or astral dimension of spiritual experience. Images of Jesus were circled by smaller depictions of saints and angels.
I felt myself going multidimensional and then realized that I was being addressed by the Kachinas again. They told me that they were going to elaborate on the lesson they shared with Anna and me the day before in the Dark Room at Pueblo Bonito. That lesson focused on the consciousness of the role and dynamics of the Holy Wind of existence. This spiral wind enjoys the status of primary energetic focus in the kivas.
The Kachinas continued the new lesson at Chimayó, explaining that the images of Christ behind the altar also functioned as a pictorial embodiment of this Holy Wind. “How is that?” I asked, and they said, “Look at his wounds.” As I did so, I began to see long beams of bright light shooting from each of Christ’s wounds, first from the abdomen, then the right hand, then the left hand, the feet together, and finally the ring of head wounds caused by the crown of thorns. I suddenly felt myself captured by and sucked into the light streaming from the right hand wound. My entire energy body was itself lit up and energized as I was slowly drawn closer and closer to the wound opening out from the flesh of the hand. I was then suddenly sucked right through the wound and out into another dimension on the other side of Christ’s hand.
I had passed through the wound and into another level of existence. This dimension opened out onto a landscape of light, with rich orange-yellow glows as the atmospheric medium. I then saw a spiral of bright white light—the same light that I had seen shooting from the wounds—as it wound itself around and around Christ’s body, which I saw as if I were standing just slightly behind his right arm, facing the backward direction, a point from which I could see Christ’s ribs curve round to his back. The light spiral formed the same spiral image that has so caught my attention in Ireland and in the U.S. Southwestern indigenous sacred sites. I could see that in this dimension the light curved from one hand wound into the other, forming a ring of light around Christ’s body (and my own, now that I was standing at his side), whereas in our normal everyday dimension the light shoots out in straight lines.
I was told that this spiraling energy was the primary energetic nature of the Kachina Christ. At this point, I believe, I then saw the rays of light that were streaming from his head wounds forming rays of traditional images of the sun. These rays formed the solar disk that is represented in so much sacred art, the halo circling Christ’s head as an image of the sun’s brilliance. This then became a three-dimensional sphere of intertwining rays, with Christ’ head (and my body) encircled within the light sphere. Christ then began flying through the skies with me still wound up in his light rays. I felt the most beautiful, intensely moving warmth shooting through my body and I realized that in the everyday dimension, where I was still sitting in the Santuario Chapel, I was crying, tears streaming down my face as I sat looking at the Christ image in utter ecstasy.
I was then asked to look at the figure at the top of the retablo on the right hand side of the Chapel (the wooden board display sitting at the left of the congregation as they face the altar), and I saw a beautiful primitive image of an angel kneeling over a stream of water. The Kachinas then told me that this was the Angel Gabriel as he had appeared to the indigenous peoples many centuries ago. He was now floating above the stream that flows along the edge of the Santuario complex, the coyote stream that Anna and I had been asked to visit when we first arrived. I was told that this Gabriel represented we had had here in previous lives as we had earlier engaged with the Kachina and other spirits of the high desert and mountains of this region. I melted into the image of Gabriel, overcome in gratitude at being afforded the opportunity to have such a vision of unity with the spiraling energies of the cosmos.
The Stigmata of St. Francis in Rancho de Taos
After lunch at Rancho de Chimayó, Anna and I continued along the High Road to Taos. As we dropped down from the mountains, vibrating in utter ecstasy, into Rancho de Taos, we decided to go see the famous San Francisco de Asís Mission Church. My original intention was basically touristic—”Let’s go see this amazing famous church that was photographed by Ansel Adams!” When we got there we decided to take a look inside.
Unexpectedly, I found myself swept away in multidimensional fervor yet again as I saw the retablos of Christ and the Saints and Angels. My Kachina Christ vision kicked back in gear as I was hearing a rehearsal of some of the themes from the original vision in Chimayó. I never could have imagined how surprised we would be, though, when we turned around and started walking back outside. We saw painted above the door a mural of the stigmatization of St. Francis. It turned out that his vision was almost identical to mine! There was the flying Christ with beams shooting from his wounds, but in this case the beams were broadcasting the blood rather than the light of Christ. Each blood ray penetrated the hands, feet, etc., of St. Francis as he fell to his knees in awe. I had never seen this image before in my life, and now in less than three hours I had my own vision in Chimayó and then its stigmatic repetition here in Rancho de Taos. I started crying on the spot, this being about the fourth or fifth time for the day.
Channeling the Kachinas: The Significance of this Kachina Christ Vision
Gabriel, we will review with you the significance of this visionary experience, its larger meaning in terms of your own travels and development, and its larger meaning in human and extra-human terms. And this last phrase is the key: We are deliberately leading you beyond the point of cultural differentiations and towards a point of human unification. Beyond this, we are leading even beyond the limits of the current notions of the human being itself. And our key for this is the Spiral.
As with the Sídhe spirits that you have been encountering and working with, we also find the image of the Spiral to be a powerful talisman and learning key for human consciousness. This symbol captures on many levels at once the multilayered and multidimensional levels of existence. And if we add to this image the experience and concept of the Sacred Wind, then we can provide you with a tool for stringing out the infinite layers of existence for cognitive understanding and experiential knowledge.
We distinguish between understanding and experiential knowledge for important reasons. It is one thing to have a conceptual grasp of the rules and techniques of a basketball game, for example, and quite another to know through experience how to play basketball. Only through the bodily weaving in and out of the other players’ bodies, the bodily engagement with the dimensions of the court and the movement and spinning properties of the ball, the placement and centering principles of the basket, the lineaments of the body and its relationship to cognition beyond cognition—the ability to know when and how to curve to the left at just the precise moment and angle without having to speak such instructions to oneself—all of these things move us beyond the simple notion of cognition and conceptualization as a simply mental activity. Cognition is an integral part of the sacred movement of Life. Cognition takes place beyond the verbal intellectual realm. And this also proves the difficulty of explaining the nature and significance of the experiences you are undergoing currently. They are not just beyond language; they are beyond the current notions of the limits and functions of language. Language, in fact, is far greater than humans currently assume, even—or maybe even especially—for those who make their living at analyzing linguistic activity. We are showing you the realms of consciousness that exceed what humans currently imagine as their own cognitive limits, their essential boundaries.
What we are asking you to do is ultimately to communicate to others just this notion of spiritual experience as surpassing all specific cultural definitions and boundaries. What we are aiming at is the awareness among humans that everything they can imagine is far larger than what they currently do imagine. By some indigenous peoples of this region, we, for example, are referred to generally as Kachinas. Yet even the common nonindigenous understandings of the notion of Kachina are far too limited and expanded simultaneously. In other words, we are at once more varied in terms of our nature as group entities than most people imagine—there is no single entity that is Kachina per se. And yet we are more universal to the extent that many other cultures have encountered us, but in very different terms. Each culture has its own way of imagining and representing what and who we are for them. And one key example of this is the Kachina Christ.
The primary point of your visionary experience in Chimayó was the recognition that Christ goes far beyond “Christ.” In other words, the spiritual experience referred to as Christ by most Christians and non-Christians alike is identical in potential to certain Kachina experiences. Your experience of the Christ yesterday was of the Christ in its Kachina aspect. Your experience was profoundly shamanic, as that term is today understood among westerners. You were led by spirit guides (us Kachinas) on a journey of initiation through the portal of Christ’s wounds to the dimension beyond ordinary experience and understanding where you were given certain truths that you then brought back with you to share with the multitude of humans and other entities with whom you constantly engage. This truth in general concerns the universally potential experience of the spiral energies of the Sacred Winds and Lights, energies that in a fractal way manifest themselves on many layers and in many dimensions simultaneously. As we said at Pueblo Bonito, As Above, So Below; As Within, So Without. The human head is itself the kiva chamber through which the Sacred Winds bring forth the experience called Kachina, the experience called Christ when the Christ experience is fully understood in its depths—beyond “Christianity.” Christ exceeds Christianity; the Kachina exceeds indigenous expressions of it. These culturally-specific experiences weave in and out of themselves and each other, forming an intricate web of human and extra-human relationships. This is the whole point of the Sacred Wind Kachina experience: To engage the infinite Web of Existence in its universal immediacy.
This truth was also behind Anna’s comments regarding the manifestations of sorrow at Chimayó: each person, each group, each culture has its own particular way of framing and representing the nature and significance of grief. We each create our own expressions and embodiments of grief and trauma. Yet humans rarely allow themselves to see beyond the immediate representations of grief to its larger implications. You were drawn through the wound of Christ into the infinite ecstatic joy of the light beyond all suffering, the light of joy that is the other side of suffering. We all suffer, and thereby we all are one. In this Oneness, we are all united. In this Unity we experience the joy of existence. We ourselves are the particular point where sorrow and joy become manifest and express themselves through the Infinite Universal Particularity of Existence.